Abbey O’Leary ’24
As one of the oldest regions in the country, Connecticut boasts a rich and fascinating history. Right here in Hartford, the Connecticut Historical Society’s Museum and Library have provided a means to preserve this history and culture while encouraging visitors to learn about Connecticut’s own history and experience little pieces of its past. The Connecticut Historical Society’s Museum is one of the oldest in the country, opening to the public in 1825. It has continued its work as a nonprofit, educational organization since. In addition to the museum, the property also houses a public library and research center, which is home to over four million artifacts representing Connecticut’s history.
With a direct focus on education, the foundation has sought to provide a knowledge of the past through engagement with the present to curate an inclusive and complex perspective of our history as well as our future and build rich, diverse, and accepting communities. The museum continually strives to connect Connecticut’s history to modern life and current issues, bridging the gap between past and present. Currently, the museum is exhibiting “Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health Presented by Hartford Healthcare Institute of Living” which highlights society’s response and work to better mental health conditions and care for mental health issues throughout history. In addition, the museum is also exhibiting “Making Connecticut,” a showcase of more than five hundred historical artifacts, resources, and objects that explore the growth of Connecticut’s society and culture, defining the diverse and inclusive story of all of Connecticut’s people since the sixteenth century. With the intention of fostering broader education opportunities and a diverse and inclusive environment, the foundation has partnered with the New York Historical Society in The Citizenship Project. Connected to their goal of education, this program allows all green card holders preparing for naturalization free citizenship classes which cover topics in civics and history required to obtain citizenship.
With the focus of incorporating the past to shape a brighter future, the museum has also worked with the Connecticut public school system to meet its core structure of criteria to enhance early education and provide resources to school systems in the state. Even beyond their work with the early education curriculum, the museum and foundation also serve as a resource for college students and adults by providing access to research, internship, and work opportunities. This is a wonderful resource for any local college students, particularly those studying education or history, by creating accessible, in-depth, and hands-on experience in specialized fields.
Additionally, the foundation has continually sought to remedy the community’s environmental issues. Its Green Mission was implemented with an intention to promote change towards a more environmentally sustainable future, working together with the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund to replace old practices with more eco-friendly and sustainable ones within the museum. The Connecticut Historical Society’s Museum is a Hartford gem and a leader in community engagement and education. Located right in Hartford, it is a great resource to use and support.